Michigan is now among the states considering legalizing online gambling under a new bill introduced by a group of state senators, although one that has been in the works for quite some time.
The bill, dubbed the Lawful Internet Gaming Act, was introduced by Senator Mike Kowall. He was joined by four other senators in introducing the bill.
The bill allows for the legalization and regulation of online casino games and poker, and seeks to “protect residents of this state who wager on games of chance and skill through the internet and to capture revenues and create jobs generated from internet gaming.”
The state Senate Committee on Regulatory Reform heard testimony in early May.
The bill restricts online gambling operating licenses to tribal casinos and Michigan commercial casinos already in possession of a license. It allows for a maximum of eight licenses. The up-front cost to obtain a license will be $5 million.
The nine-person committee, chaired by state Senator Tory Rocca, heard testimony from four different people in support of the bills, including Poker Players Alliance President John Pappas and three representatives from PokerStars/Amaya Gaming.
Pappas said online gambling expansion bills are primarily consumer protection bills. He noted that Michigan residents are already gambling online on unregulated, offshore sites.
The three representatives from PokerStars/ Amaya detailed how PokerStars manages responsible gambling, identifying problem gambling and potential fraud and other compliance issues, the report said.
Under the bill, players would have to be 21 years old. Michigan-based commercial and tribal casinos could apply for online gaming licenses. Under the bill, tribes would have to waive sovereign immunity and pay the relevant taxes and fees in order to qualify.
In addition to the licensing fee, the state would levy a 10 percent tax on revenue. Licenses would be for five years. A $100,000, non-refundable application fee would also be imposed.
The bill does not require gamblers to be physically located in the state, and allows for interstate and international compacts to be signed, thus allowing gambling customers from other jurisdictions to play in Michigan-based online casinos and poker rooms.